Fantasy Football: League-winning tight ends for 2023

2M9R11Y FILE - Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews (89) warms up before an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, in Baltimore. Mark Andrews surpassed 4,000 yards receiving for his career on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. He downplayed the accomplishment ? but teammate Calais Campbell was happy to reflect on it.(AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

  • Only a few tight ends could dethrone Travis Kelce: The Kansas City Chiefs is one of four tight ends with a PFF receiving grade above 90.0 over the last two seasons. No one has graded between 85-90.
  • Mark Andrews will benefit from Todd Monken: The Baltimore Ravens will start throwing the ball more often, which means more targets for Andrews.
  • George Kittle will continue to benefit from Brock Purdy: Kittle was the league’s best fantasy tight end once Purdy started seeing playing time.
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

These league winners are players who have an ADP in the first four rounds on ESPN and who I have ranked notably higher than their ADP. For help with sleepers, draft strategy, rankings or for more details about the players, check out the rest of my summer content below. For better filtering of the rankings along with auction values, check out our draft rankings page.

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Last updated: 7:15 a.m. Wednesday, July 26

Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens (ADP: 34.1, From ESPN)

Andrews has the best shot of overtaking Travis Kelce as the top overall tight end, which he’s already done once in 2021.

  • Over the last two seasons, Andrews ranks second in targets (8.1), receptions (5.6), receiving yards (69.0) and receiving PPR points (15.15) per game among tight ends.
  • He’s accomplished this while ranking first in most of those numbers per route run, including 2.09 yards per route run.
  • Andrews at his best has graded close to as well as Kelce last season. Andrews earned a 91.0 in 2021 in receiving compared to 91.6 by Kelce last season.
  • He didn’t grade as well last season at 79.4, but he was still in the top five. Andrews will need to bounce back in order to overtake Kelce as the overall TE1.
  • Andrews is six years younger than Kelce, making it more likely that Kelce regresses this season than Andrews.
  • The reason Andrews hasn’t been held in the same regard as Kelce in recent seasons is that he hasn’t been running nearly as many routes. The Kansas City Chiefs have been among the most pass-heavy teams while the Baltimore Ravens have been among the most run-heavy.
  • That is about to change with Todd Monken as offensive coordinator. Matching Andrews’ efficiency with a pass-first offense gives him a chance of being the top-fantasy tight end again.
  • Monken’s offenses didn’t target tight ends much during his time as an NFL offensive coordinator, but he’s yet to have a tight end in the NFL anywhere near as talented as Andrews.
  • His Georgia Bulldog’s offense in recent seasons has greatly favored throwing to tight ends led by Brock Bowers.

George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers (ADP: 49.6)

Kittle has been nearly as talented as Travis Kelce, just without the pass-happy offense and future Hall-of-Fame quarterback to boost his fantasy value.

  • Kittle has finished in the top four among tight ends in fantasy points per game in each of his last five seasons.
  • He finished second in the league last season.
  • He’s averaged 5.5 receptions per game along with 70.8 receiving yards and 15.0 PPR points over the last five seasons, which all rank second to Kelce.
  • One problem in his career has been a lack of touchdowns, but he overcame that this last season. His 0.73 receiving touchdowns per game ranked first among tight ends.
  • The big reason to be even more excited for Kittle this season compared to past seasons is Brock Purdy.
  • In Kittle’s career, he’s averaged one touchdown per game when Purdy plays 80% of snaps or more, and 0.3 touchdowns per game in all other games, including the playoffs.
  • Kittle has consistently graded among the league’s best tight ends on deep passes, but it’s been on a small sample size as most previous 49ers quarterbacks and Jimmy Garoppolo in particular don’t throw deep very often.
  • Purdy was right at league average in terms of how often he threw deep.
  • Kittle caught five of seven deep passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns from Week 13 on including the playoffs once Purdy took over. He only caught two deep passes over the first 12 weeks, and four deep passes in all of 2021.
  • Kittle led all tight ends in fantasy points from Week 13 to 18 once Purdy started playing.
  • He will still be stuck in a run-first offense, but more big plays and more touchdowns gives Kittle a chance to be the overall TE1.
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